8 Best Onsen in Yamagata | Relaxing Onsen with Great Landscape

8 Best Onsen in Yamagata | Relaxing Onsen with Great Landscape

Located in the Tohoku region of Japan, Yamagata Prefecture is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. Being so cold, there are many onsen hot spring resorts to warm up in.

Since Yamagata is close to the mountains and the sea, you can bathe while enjoying a magnificent view of nature.

In this article, we will introduce our favorite 8 onsen resorts in Yamagata prefecture.

Let’s get started.

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Written by Sakura Mobile Blog Team

Hello readers! Sakura Mobile is a SIM & WiFi service provider for international residents and tourists in Japan.

Our global editorial team living in Japan will introduce the charms of the country based on what we have actually experienced and felt.

Table of Contents

  1. Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)
  2. Zao Onsen (蔵王温泉)
  3. Atsumi Onsen (あつみ温泉)
  4. Hijiori Onsen (肘折温泉)
  5. Ubayu Onsen (姥湯温泉)
  6. Kaminoyama Onsen (かみのやま温泉)
  7. Tendo Onsen (天童温泉)
  8. Akayu Onsen (赤湯温泉)
  9. Conclusion

Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)

Ginzan onsen
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Ginzan Onsen is a hot spring resort that has existed for many years since the Edo period, and is characterized by the onsen hot springs, ryokan, and hotel facilities lining the Ginzan River. When the sun sets, the town is lit up by old lamps and a mysterious atmosphere can be enjoyed.

There are many onsen hot springs in Ginzan Onsen that can be used for one-day trips. There are a variety of onsen hot spring facilities available, including open-air baths, indoor baths, and footbaths. The view of greenery and the Ginzan River from the hot springs is very relaxing, and is recommended to relieve fatigue from traveling.

Nobusawa Ginzan Ruins
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

The literal translation of the word “Ginzan” is “silver mountain,” but it means that it is an area where silver is mined. The silver mining process uncovered the hot springs source, which led to the birth of the present-day Ginzan Onsen (silver mine hot springs). At this historic site, visitors can take a tour of the mine shafts of the Enzawa Silver Mine and enjoy a sense of exploration by crossing a footbridge that leads underground. At the end of the hot spring resort area is a sightseeing spot called “Nobusawa Ginzan Ruins”.

Places to stay at Ginzan Onsen

Senkyo No Yado Ginzanso (仙狭の宿 銀山壮)
The ryokan features spacious open-air onsen baths.

Ginzan Onsen Fujiya Inn (銀山温泉 八屋の宿 藤屋)
You can enjoy a modern atmosphere with black and gold themes and five private baths.

Soba and Waterfall Takimi-kan(滝と蕎麦の宿 瀧見館)
A Japanese ryokan with a view of a waterfall and handmade buckwheat noodles.

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Zao Onsen (蔵王温泉)

zao onsen
Photo courtesy of Zao Onsen Ski Resort

Zao is famous as a mountain resort with everything, but it is also renowned as a hot spring resort boasting more than 50 hot spring sources. The hot spring resort is located on a plateau surrounded by Mt. Zao and is about a 40-minute bus ride from Yamagata Station.

Zao Onsen has three public onsen bathhouses, three onsen footbaths, and five onsen day spa facilities. The most famous of these is the Zao Onsen Grand Open-air Bath, where visitors can bathe while listening to the murmuring of the mountain stream and the chirping of birds. The hot springs in the Zao area are perfect for those who want to feel the healing effects of hot springs, as the highly acidic water has many medicinal properties for beautiful skin and good health.

zao onsen okama
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Another famous spot in Zao Onsen is the volcanic lake called “Okama”. It’s a rare and beautiful lake where the color of the water changes from emerald green to light blue depending on the sunlight. Visitors can enjoy the richness of nature using the lifts or trekking to the mountain tops to view the scenery of Zao.

Places to stay at Zao Onsen

Ōmiya Ryokan (蔵王源泉おおみや旅館)
Check out the retro Taisho-roman-style interior and the ”Beautifying waters”.

Youshitsinoyu (最上高湯 善七乃湯)
A total of 11 baths can be enjoyed, including an open-air bath and an outdoor bath with views of the city.

Zao Kokusai Hotel Yamagat(蔵王国際ホテル)
The all-glass indoor bath with a view of the forest and the stone open-air bath create an amazing atmosphere.

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Atsumi Onsen (あつみ温泉)

atsumi onsen
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Atsumi Onsen is a hot spring resort located near the Sea of Japan, about 40 minutes from Tokyo by plane and car. The Onumi River flows through the center of the town, where visitors can enjoy fishing and footbaths. In April and May, the nighttime cherry blossoms along the river are lit up, creating a fantastic atmosphere.

Atsumi Onsen also has seven lodging facilities and three public onsen bathhouses where visitors can take a day trip to the hot springs. There are three footbaths and various cafes where visitors can enjoy a meal while soaking their feet. These unique hot spring experiences will give you a different kind of hot spring travel experience.

atsumi onsen rose park
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

In addition to the onsen hot springs, the Atsumi Onsen Rose Garden is also a great place to visit. The park has over 3,000 roses of about 90 varieties, and the view from the hill overlooking the hot spring resort is a great viewing spot.

Places to stay at Atsumi Onsen

Atsumi Onsen Bankokuya (あつみ温泉 萬国屋)
Check out the famous hot spring that was selected as the No. 1 hot spring in Tohoku by “Tohoku Jaran” (a famous travel magazine in Japan).

Atsumi Onsen Tachibanaya (あつみ温泉 たちばなや)
There is a traditional Japanese garden located in the middle of the ryokan, providing a healing environment surrounded by flowers and fresh greenery. Visitors can also feed carp and wild ducks.

Takamiyabettei Kuon(庄内あつみ温泉 高見屋別邸 久遠)
There are various ways to enjoy the hot springs, including an open-air bath with a view of the garden, three types of one-person open-air baths, and a spacious large public bath.

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Hijiori Onsen (肘折温泉)

hijiori onsen
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Hijiori Onsen is a hot spring resort located in a heavy snowfall area. In the winter months, the snowfall regularly exceeds 3 meters. Many snow events are held in Hijiori, such as the “Fantasy Snow Corridor,” in which candles are lit on the snow walls, and the “Groundwork Competition,” in which visitors compete in digging out snow with shovels. In addition, there is a campaign in which hotel and ryokan rates are discounted the more it snows, so visitors can enjoy the excitement of heading to their destinations while hoping for heavy snowfall.

To escape the cold, Hijiori Onsen offers six outside hot springs. At a day-trip hot spring facility called Caldera Onsenkan, visitors can enjoy open-air baths and a cold carbonated spring with a temperature of 9°C, which is rare in Japan.

Shikamura Rice Terraces
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

In Hijiori, there is an amazing spot called the “Shigamura no tanada” (terraced rice fields in the four villages). Terraced rice fields are rice paddies built in large steps on the slopes of mountains. In the summer, a traditional “Hotarubi” concert is held here, and in the winter, you can watch the snow cover the area and create a silver world.

Places to stay at Hijiori Onsen

Kangetsu Inn Hijiori Onsen(肘折温泉 優心の宿観月)
The outdoor bath with a view is rare among the Hijiori hot springs, and is recommended for those who want to bathe while admiring the scenery.

Ootomoya Ryokan Hijiori Onsen(肘折温泉 大友屋旅館)
Visitors can enjoy these hot springs by making hot spring eggs from the source, drinking hot spring water, and taking a free private bath.

Maruya Ryokan Hijiori Onsen(肘折温泉 丸屋)
You can enjoy the Japanese atmosphere with the use of wood. Guests will also receive free tickets to one of the six external hot springs in the Hijiori hot spring area.

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Ubayu Onsen (姥湯温泉)

Ubayu onsen
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Ubayu Onsen is a hot spring resort located in a valley and is known as a secluded place away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is located about 30 minutes by train from Fukushima Station.

The most famous onsen hot spring spot in Ubayu Onsen is “Yamamba no Yu” at Ubayu Onsen Masugataya. Here, visitors can take a one-day open-air bath and enjoy the unique experience of bathing on a cliff surrounded by rocks at an altitude of 1,300 meters above sea level. Especially in October and November, you can enjoy bathing while the leaves change colors, which is said to have an amazing healing effect.

Namekawa Ootaki
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

A 10-minute drive from Ubayu Onsen is a waterfall called Namegawa Great Falls. Selected as one of the “100 best waterfalls in Japan,” this attraction requires a 30-minute climb, but you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you see the spectacular view along with the waterfall.

Places to stay at Ubayu Onsen

Ubayu Onsen Masugataya(姥湯温泉 桝形屋)
The most attractive feature would be the secluded open-air bath that is surrounded by cliffs and mountains. It is recommended for those who want to bathe with a spectacular view.

Namegawa Onsen Fukushimaya(滑川温泉 福島屋)
This ryokan is located deep in the mountains, and you can enjoy an open-air rock bath to relax in nature.

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Kaminoyama Onsen (かみのやま温泉)

kaminoyama onsen
Photo courtesy of Japanese Inn Koyo

Kaminoyama Onsen is a castle town (a city that developed around a castle) where many samurai warriors lived about 500 years ago. Kaminoyama is a town where visitors can experience the unique culture and history of Japan’s samurai by visiting Kaminoyama Castle, which was a battlefield between warlords, and touring the mansions where the warriors of the time lived.

Footbaths are set up throughout the town, and among them, the footbath in the facilities of Kaminoyama Castle is recommended as it offers a spectacular view of Kaminoyama City and the Zao area. There are also six public bathhouses, and if you participate in a walking tour called “Onsen Quaalto,” you can get free tickets to the public bathhouses.

kasedori kaminoyama onsen
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

In Kaminoyama, a traditional folk event called “Kasedori” is held in winter. The event is to pray for family safety and business prosperity by pouring water on young people wearing straw coats (rain gear made of woven tree bark), who chirp like birds. Tourists can also participate in the Kasei-dori event, so please take this opportunity to experience this event.

Places to stay at Kaminoyama Onsen

Enjoy an open-air bath inspired by Turkey and an open-air bath with a view of the mountains, built on the seventh floor above ground.

Tsukioka Hotel Senkeien(かみのやま温泉 仙渓園月岡ホテル )
You can enjoy a buffet featuring Yamagata specialties and an open-air bath surrounded by a Japanese garden.

Japanese Inn Koyo(日本の宿 古窯)
In addition to an open-air bath with a view of Zao, visitors can enjoy a cold and hot kamakura sauna and safflower bath.

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Tendo Onsen (天童温泉)

Tendo onsen
Photo courtesy of Tendo Hotel

Tendo Onsen is a slightly unusual hot spring resort known for its shogi (a traditional Japanese game, similar to chess) pieces scattered throughout the town. Fruit picking and winery tours are available in combination with the hot springs, and there are plenty of other events to enhance your trip in addition to the hot springs. Tendo Onsen is also located in the center of Yamagata Prefecture and is easily accessible to other hot spring resorts.

In Tendo Onsen, a public hot spring facility called “Tendo Onsen Hanakoma-so” has been built recently. It is recommended to those who want to relieve their fatigue during the trip for its individual resting rooms and low-cost hot spring baths.

Tendo Cherry Blossom Festival Human Shogi
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

Every year in April, an event called “Tendo Cherry Blossom Festival Human Shogi” is held. Visitors can enjoy seeing people playing shogi as real-life pieces.

Places to stay at Tendo Onsen

Tendo Hotel(天童温泉 美味求真の宿 天童ホテル)
There is an open-air bath where you can bathe while gazing at the waterfall. Feel the grandeur of nature while listening to the sound of the waterfall.

Takinoyu Hotel(ほほえみの宿 滝の湯)
Enjoy a glass of beer after bathing. Visitors can also try their hand at making onsen tamago (hot spring eggs).

Yubou Ichiraku(桜桃の花 湯坊いちらく)
There is a brewery in the building, and you can enjoy craft beer on the terrace or in the lounge. There are also three types of rooms with open-air baths that are available in the villa.

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Akayu Onsen (赤湯温泉)

akayu onsen
Photo courtesy of Tansen Hotel

Akayu Onsen is a hot spring resort that flourished as a gotenyu (a royal bathhouse) more than 900 years ago. It is said that warriors in the old days bathed there to heal their wounds after battles. Today, it is a hot spring resort known not only for its hot springs but also for its wine and ramen noodles, and is a hot spring town where visitors can enjoy walking around town.

Akayu Onsen has three public bathhouses and one footbath spa facility, and in June 2022 a new day spa facility called “Yukotto” was built. The outdoor and indoor baths feature free-flowing hot-spring water, making it the perfect place to heal your body with natural hot spring water.

nanyo skypark
Photo courtesy of Yamagata He No Tabi

A spot called “Nanyo Sky Park” in Akayu Onsen lets you experience hang gliding and paragliding. You can see the spectacular view of Akayu from above, and if you are lucky, you can see the sea of clouds up close.

Places to stay at Akayu Onsen

Yamagataza Takinami(山形座 瀧波)
The combination of Scandinavian furniture and modern Japanese décor provides a stylish and luxurious atmosphere.

Uesugi no Miyu Gotenmori(赤湯温泉 上杉の御湯 御殿守)
The ryokan is a remake of a 400-year-old villa of one of the old lords of the area. They offer guests the opportunity to try out 12 different types of hot springs.

Tansen Hot Spring Hotel(赤湯温泉 丹泉ホテル)
In addition to Japanese-style open-air baths designed to resemble a Japanese garden, there are also ancient Roman-style hot springs. You can also receive a local hot spring bathing ticket for free.

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Have you found an onsen hot spring resort that you like? There are many different types of resorts across Yamagata Prefecture, so pick which onsen will suit you best.

Yamagata has many towns where samurai warriors and their retainers lived in the olden days of Japan, and there are many sightseeing areas where you can experience different aspects of traditional Japanese culture. Many hot spring resorts go well with the cold weather, so be sure to visit them to relieve your travel fatigue.

It is important to note that Wi-Fi and service may not be available at some of the inns, as their locations may be deep in the mountains away from civilization. If you want a stable communication environment while surrounded by nature, please check out the following data SIM or pocket WiFi plans.

Have you booked your SIM card or pocket WiFi for your trip to Japan yet?

In Japan, you’ll want to be connected without missing out on high speed data and internet!

By reserving online before departing, you can

  • Lower your rental fees
  • Avoid stock shortages at the airport

To learn more about data and WiFi options for your trip, check out our products below.


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